Cycling is like life. Cycling with no goal is meaningless. What meaning is there cycling in circles? Or living aimlessly? Meaning comes from direction and destination. Join me in my life's journey on a mountain bike :)

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Saturday, September 22, 2012

Run like crazy

Lorong Halus, 154 km. Having allowed myself to be talked out of an ultra marathon run, I decide to help others make their dreams come true. I sign up for bicycle patrol at Craze Ultra (or should that be ultra crazy?), where choice of distances include 101 km and 100 miles (160 km).

The job? An 11-hour shift to see that no runner is down and, if so, call for help. I also end up replacing stolen/blown away signage. And giving the thumbs up to runners as I cycle past, to shyly and silently cheer them on. Some smile. Others wave. Some do both. Some do none, they look ahead and keep going.

One-legged hero
On one of my patrols, I see a runner down. Cramps. In both legs. And in his gut. He doesn't even want to crawl into the shade. A few runners surround him. One gives him a towel (perhaps the only towel she has) to shield his face from the sun. Another phones for help. "I'll stay with him," I offer. The runners are relieved as the clock is ticking. A girl asks me where to get water. I empty one of my bottles into her bag and tell her where the nearest 7-Eleven is. Blade Runner and medics on wheels pass by, who adminster first aid to the collapsed runner.

I continue my patrols. At a junction where people have reportedly turned the wrong way, I sweep the area for several km, looking for lost runners, then resume patrol on the official route.

A girl passes a runner. She must've done about 60 km already."Well done," she says. "All the way," he replies. I pass an old man. His wispy white hair stands out from under his hat. I ask him if he needs anything. He wants a sip of water, so I squirt from my water bottle into his mouth. I look at his bib, he's signed up for the 100 mile run. He has over 100 km more to go. I later find out he's 70 years old.

At checkpoint 4, which I adopt as my refueling base, there's an aunty who volunteers because she is free. And a girl clocking community involvement hours - a school requirement. They prepare sandwiches, watermelon and liquid meals for runners. A thoughtful volunteer puts ice into a container, which we use to spray onto runners who want to wash their faces and/or cool down. When runners stop for food and drink, they reek of sweat and valour. None of the ladies at the checkpoint have proper meals for lunch, just biscuits and stuff. They decline my offer to buy dinner for them. Mosquitoes feast on them - the volunteers, not the biscuits and stuff.

One-armed hero
The sun sets. It is dark. Shadows are long. I peer into them as I cycle past, to see if any runners are lying down in pain. I see two runners standing, waiting for ambulance. One has bad blisters and a bad ankle. An ambulance stops to give treatment. I shine my torch to shed light. Another Good Samaritan runner comes by and whips out his far-brighter light. Conscious that the clock is ticking, I tell him I'm staying with Blister Man, but Mr Samaritan insists on staying put until Blister Man takes an ambulance ride.

Over 200 people have signed up for the ultra, including about 80 for 100 km and about 60 for 100 miles. While others have organised 100 km runs before, no one, as far as I know, has organised a 100 mile run on this little island that's about 40 km at its widest point.

I'm so inspired, I've done several marathons and, seeing ultra marathoners, I know they're a breed apart. They dress differently and behave differently. Some wear caps with flaps, and carry phones, light, food and water. Some grit, some grin and show a whole lot of heart. I'm touched some won't leave strangers behind.

1 comment:

Carrie said...

As usual, you've come to the rescue! nice account of the spirit of the ultra.